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Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: UConn visits Cincy

Feb 6, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

Cincinnati Memphis AP

GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 22 UConn at No. 7 Cincinnati, 7:00 p.m.

Cincinnati has played like one of the best teams in the country over the last month and change, taking firm control of the AAC race in the process. Their strength is on the defensive end of the floor and their ability to get to the offensive glass. UConn doesn’t have much size inside, but they do have Shabazz Napier and on the nights where Deandre Daniels and Ryan Boatright play well, they’re dangerous.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Oregon at No. 2 Arizona, 9:00 p.m.

Arizona’s first game without Brandon Ashley. How will the Wildcats respond without him in the lineup? How will they react to playing an Oregon team in desperate need of a win? The Ducks have the talent to pull off the upset, but they are also the most disappointing team in the Pac-12. Which Oregon shows up?

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Murray State at Belmont, 9:00 p.m.

The two powers that be in the Ohio Valley will square off tonight in what is becoming a delightful little rivalry between in-state, mid-major rivals. Isaiah Cannon and Ian Clark may be off to the professional ranks, but Belmont’s brought enough back to win at North Carolina while Murray State is relying on a trio of newcomers to try to lead them back to the NCAA tournament.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) Adreian Payne will be making his return to the court as Penn State visits No. 9 Michigan State. While we’re here, read the profile that Jason King wrote about him.

2) Is LSU an NCAA tournament team? They looked like it in a pair of wins last week. But how will they handle the road in the SEC? They’re at Georgia tonight.

3) VCU has looked like Saint Louis’ biggest contender in the A-10 the last couple of weeks. They’ll host URI tonight.

4) SMU has looked like an NCAA tournament team in recent weeks. They get a visit from Temple tonight in a game that could do serious their bubble dreams.

5) You want a sneaky mid-major to watch come March? How about Georgia State, with R.J. Hunter and Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow. They’ll visit Arkansas-Little Rock tonight.

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